Experiencing Something New

by lauren atkinson


(Cross-posted from Medium. Expect posts to be here going forward.)

I get distracted when I am working from home. My diningroom table (where I spend most times working) faces the neighboring building’s roof, with a view of the alleyway and a good portion of the neighborhood below. My mind gets stuck on memories sometimes when I look out of that window, with the breeze pouring in (even on warmer days) — The smell of sunshine beating off of rooftop tar and the occurrence of the mind to wander when it’s trigger by the scent of something familiar.

When I was 11 my father decided to re-shingle the roof. Not to hire someone, no. This would be a family project, of course. My father is the type to always opt to do things on your own, whether to make it an opportunity for the family to bond or to teach my brothers and I new skills.

Thinking back to the humidity on the roof and the smell of tar. I remember having a strange fascination with poking at the tar as it was settling and rolling shingling nails down the roof until they hit the gutter. But somewhere in the moments of childhood distraction, I’d watch my uncle and father as they went about pulling shingles then replacing them with utmost ease and prior knowledge. Like they had been doing this as a job for many years. I asked my uncle how many roofs he had “done” and his response:“You do one, you’ve done them all.”

Then I see my father later working through a complex mathematical problem like he’s done this before. This is practice. Approaching the challenge similarly as you’ve done in the past but recognizing the new context.

I’d like to approach life in that way with some things. “Done one, done them all.” Not in the sense of the mundane, routine but that all anxiety and pressure to perfect becomes lax. The confidence in knowing that whatever it is, you can accomplish it because you’ve done similar or just the same. That all experience lends itself to how you approach new challenges.

Just like the brain triggered by the sense of smell, so can new experiences be inspired by the ones you’ve had before.


A Sappy Anniversary Post

by lauren atkinson


Five years ago, I committed myself to having the time of my life, for my whole life, with the best human that I have ever met. At least, that is my interpretation of our marriage vows. Little did I know, life doesn't always need to be a goddamned adventure to be absolutely wonderful. The below post is not meant to be an advice column, but more a brag on what I've learned in doing life alongside and sometimes with my husband.

Marriage is both practical and romantic. Some relationships consider only one part of that.

Marriage life for us is equal parts romance, fun, and practical. Just as you can be romantic with someone and have there be nothing practical about it or be married for practical reasons but feel no romance.. I'm lucky that I can have the romantic feelings of truly loving and caring deeply for someone but also having a practical partnership.

There have been times in our marriage that we've been lucky enough to not worry about material needs (money, food, housing) because we both have secure jobs. Then there have been really hard times where one of us is working and the other is not -- although those times weren't met with poverty, they were still tighter than we are used to. One thing I know about both of us, is that if one of us were alone and unemployed, we'd hustle to make sure we are ok. That's why when we are together and one of us is not making income -- it doesn't feel pressured. We can take care of ourselves financially, each of us, independently. 

But it's practical to have shared finances, in case something scary happens. It's also practical having two people's names owning something. 

Marriage is not about one person being the "better-half" You should both be whole people prior to getting married. The other person isn't there to "fix" you.

There is a common misconception that with a well-functioning marriage, it is required that one individual "fills gaps" or "completes missing pieces" of the other. That somehow, when you marry your partner, insecurities felt in your romantic past lives with other partners will somehow disappear. That your spouse "makes you feel beautiful" and that is incredibly important.

I'd like to propose something else. In a high-functioning marriage, individuals are strongly independent, can stand on their own but don't want to. They want to learn and continue to grow themselves in all skills, emotional maturities, all life experiences. There is nothing lacking in either person that the other needs to fill the gap to. There's no defined roles or assumptions. It's not someone's set responsibility to provide financially for the unit. Jesse doesn't need me, but he wants to do life alongside me. (I mean, I guess I can assume if we made it this long.)

Jesse and I make mistakes sometimes. (that should go without saying. EVERYONE makes mistakes.) But one thing I am quite proud of is that we've always been able to resolve any mishaps together, even if we could probably do it on our own. There have been plenty of times that I am confident given time and study, I can do something on my own. But if I work together with Jesse on whatever it is -- we accomplish the challenge faster together. Not due to me needing him, but we function well together. 

There's a quote that I heard in church sermons about marriage that would always make me angry. It's from the famous christian pastor James Dobson (Focus on the Family, etc.) "Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual that you think you can't live without." On the surface, this sounds fairytale and romantic, but in reality you are assuming that either the individual you intend to marry is 1) a possession that you own or 2) you are a dysfunctional human that needs others to validate you. 

I understand that this probably wasn't the intent of Dr. Dobson, but I want to say:

Marry the person that you can do life with in full but also independently when necessary. That encourages you to grow as a person while you are growing together in experiences. Don't settle for someone that needs part of you and uses you as a crutch. Nor settle for someone that fills a part that you can't fill on your own. Learn to be a whole person on your own and look for someone that does the same. 

Or, marry as you think is best. I'm just saying that this marriage I am in: it's pretty great. And I think we've got something going on. Anyway, Happy Anniversary to the best. 


Celebrating Life and Generations

by lauren atkinson


I'm sorry (kind of) for the blast of family photos that is about to happen.

In addition to my maternal grandpa being sick, My father's mother is likely not going to make it through the end of the week and I've been going through old photos to take with me when I fly home.

I've gotten lucky in a lot of respects. 

But one place that will always hold the greatest amount of joy is flipping through old family photos. Both of my grandfathers hold a strong interest in taking photos. This means that a lot of my life has been captured on film, which is something I don't regret. 

Our family has some really hard but precious times captured to memory through photos. It's much easier to celebrate the joys in life when you have strong memories and evidence of them.

So behold, some of my favorite photos. Likely, you'll see more than just these in the coming week but I thought that I'd share a few now. 

 

  This photo is so precious for a couple of reasons: This photo was taken towards the end of 1990, my brothers' birth year. They were born prematurely and had respiratory problems as a result. Obviously, they've pulled through but not with ease. But you'd never guess that looking at this photo. When I was born, I had 5 living great grandmothers. One of them, far left, clearly maintained a sense of humor despite Alzheimer's. No one in the picture caught her goofing off, but my grandpa behind the camera did. My dad's hair. The one constant in my life is that no matter what, I can rely on my dad's hair looking like that in the morning and mine nearly matching it. At least I know where I get it from (Also, please note my father's shirt. Word up to "World Champs, the Pistons: 1989") My brother looking as if he's philosophizing about something while unable to speak. Everyone in PJs. And then there's my grandma. My grandma's engagement talking to my dad out of frame. She's still the focal point of the photo despite everything else going on. Being right smack in the middle of everything. She does that.

 

This photo is so precious for a couple of reasons:
This photo was taken towards the end of 1990, my brothers' birth year. They were born prematurely and had respiratory problems as a result. Obviously, they've pulled through but not with ease. But you'd never guess that looking at this photo.
When I was born, I had 5 living great grandmothers. One of them, far left, clearly maintained a sense of humor despite Alzheimer's. No one in the picture caught her goofing off, but my grandpa behind the camera did.
My dad's hair. The one constant in my life is that no matter what, I can rely on my dad's hair looking like that in the morning and mine nearly matching it. At least I know where I get it from (Also, please note my father's shirt. Word up to "World Champs, the Pistons: 1989")
My brother looking as if he's philosophizing about something while unable to speak.
Everyone in PJs.
And then there's my grandma.
My grandma's engagement talking to my dad out of frame. She's still the focal point of the photo despite everything else going on. Being right smack in the middle of everything. She does that.

  What's not pictured here is the 4 generations of women in this room. Two great grandmothers, one mother, one aunt, one grandmother and a youngest, only daughter and granddaughter.  What is pictured is the look of joy on my mother's face. She was about 28-29 when this photo was taken. I'd imagine on her 50th birthday (which is in 6 days) We can crack the same smile out of her.

 

What's not pictured here is the 4 generations of women in this room. Two great grandmothers, one mother, one aunt, one grandmother and a youngest, only daughter and granddaughter. 

What is pictured is the look of joy on my mother's face. She was about 28-29 when this photo was taken. I'd imagine on her 50th birthday (which is in 6 days) We can crack the same smile out of her.

  Inserting this here because, really, how cute is this freaking jack-o-lantern grin? My brothers can be absolute shitheads but sometimes they are freaking adorable. This is a perfect example of this. 

 

Inserting this here because, really, how cute is this freaking jack-o-lantern grin? My brothers can be absolute shitheads but sometimes they are freaking adorable. This is a perfect example of this. 

  This is my grandma. Putting my hair in rollers and me cheesing while wearing (of course) my favorite Aladdin night gown. Pictured in back (per most photographs between the ages of 1-10) is my beloved Mickey Mouse. I don't think there's much of a story here outside of the fact that I probably wanted my hair curled because grandma did her own, and more than likely, those curls fell flat about 20 minutes later.     

 

This is my grandma. Putting my hair in rollers and me cheesing while wearing (of course) my favorite Aladdin night gown. Pictured in back (per most photographs between the ages of 1-10) is my beloved Mickey Mouse. I don't think there's much of a story here outside of the fact that I probably wanted my hair curled because grandma did her own, and more than likely, those curls fell flat about 20 minutes later. 

 

 


Everyone is Special.

by lauren atkinson


I have a really great job. I love the company that I work for and absolutely love my team. Managing others is a major joy for me and I truly believe it to be one of my strengths. That being said, working with others is always going to have its stresses. Sometimes, when I've had a full week, I really do not want to see anyone for a while. I want alone time.

But then comes the dichotomy of that: without human interaction, I get extremely depressed. 

This week was no exception to this. The whole week I kept thinking about the weekend and how exciting it was to have two full days of interacting with only my husband. And then, the invites for social events started pouring in and of course, I couldn't resist the thought of chatting about something that wasn't work with some close friends. 

And then yesterday happened. I woke up in the middle of a night with a panic attack. Not sure what prompted it or why. So that set the tone for the entire day. I had back-to-back meetings and plenty of work. I was exhausted and of course, forgot to eat lunch. This was enough for me to have an emotional breakdown on its own (I get pretty HANGRY) but one more thing would surely set me over the edge. 

I also anticipated working late yesterday and kept thinking about all of the shit I needed to do at home.

Then at 4PM I get a text stating that my grandpa, who had been in pain and sick, was diagnosed with cancer. I got pretty hysterical. Still am. At the moment, I wanted to scream at everyone around me and have them tell me it was going to be OK and for them to hug me and let me cry on their shoulder. I also wanted to see not a single person's dumb face ever again. 

I only tell all of this because I've realized, that the same thing that stresses me out rejuvenates and assists me in recovering from stress: Human interaction. 

I've been described as both an extrovert and an introvert in the past but truth is: 

I'm obviously not a fucking introvert. I'm probably not an extrovert, either.

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of posts online about personality tests and tons of articles regarding how introverts rule the world or some shit or that they're singled out and misunderstood (that's not a jab at anyone... I promise) and every time I see these posts I turn a little inward. Introverts aren't fucking unicorns. Recently, it seems like it's pretty trendy to self-identify as an introvert. Personalities, how you handle stress, etc. is not a trend. (Also, if the point of self-identifying is to find yourself and make sure that you are handling your own personal issues per your personality type, why the fuck are you sharing it on the internet?) 

What the hell is wrong with humanity that everything needs a definition? Let me tell you a secret:

EVERYONE IS FUCKING SPECIAL.

All that to say, deal with stress how you need. Don't hurt other people and obviously, don't hurt yourself. But there doesn't need to be a case study trying to define what is best for your personality. You're an individual. Find what works for you and own it. 

 

I apologize if this is a jumbled mess and just a rant. But really... 

 


Makeup Monday : Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick

by lauren atkinson


This is a love-hate relationship, in more than one way.

I love the colors, names, and packaging of these lipsticks but I hate the packaging and texture of these lipsticks as well. 

The colors are absolutely stellar. The pigments go on exactly as they look and have some true staying power. By applying, blotting, and reapplying, you can achieve a color that last hours. Pretty impressed by this. 

The formula smells similarly to MAC. Only more cupcake-y and fragrant. That's exactly what these lipsticks smell like. MAC + Vanilla frosting. Not sure if this is a complaint or compliment. Certainly took some getting used to. 

SUPER cute packaging. However, not sold on the thin plastic caps. 

Here are a few of the shades I picked up. 

 

A notable pet peeve is that the colors that include shimmer in them have a weird texture. Gritty and glittery are not a fond trait for a lipstick. They apply effortlessly, however during application they have an odd sandlike texture. The color looks great, though, once you get past the texture. Here's Lullabye for a look:

Lullabye on my lips. No liner. No image re-touching or filtering. Taken on iPhone 6. 

Lullabye on my lips. No liner. No image re-touching or filtering. Taken on iPhone 6. 

One serious complaint and compliment: the packaging. It looks beautiful and edgy yet lacks the depth of the former Kat Von D lipstick lines. What I loved about the Painted Love Lipsticks was the density and weight of the packaging. It was creative and beautiful but felt heavy and really, expensive. The new Studded Kiss line is a light-weight plastic. Which, would be fine, except for one huge flaw: the lipstick lid pops off CONSTANTLY. I ended up with a purse full of hot pink lipstick one day: it was not pretty.

So overall, lipstick pouts all around but make sure you purchase a lipstick caddy for your purse.

 <3 Have you tried out any of the shades? Any loves? Any complaints? Would love to hear below! 


Pen Pal.

by lauren atkinson


It's really no secret that I love cards. The more mail sent through snailmail, the better. And every single card I get ends up on the refrigerator for a time. Because I love receiving cards and letters, I tend to assume others like this too.

I try to be diligent about sending the people that I care about a card or handwritten letter whenever I think to. There's something about getting a handwritten letter that feels so personal. I'd like to think that the biggest factor is the time spent to sit down and write on a card that was selected just for that person, or a postcard you saw in a shop and thought "I'm thinking of this person."

Because the last few months have been crazy hectic with the start of a new job and really settling into life in the Bay, I haven't taken the time I normally would to send my loved ones the amount of mail I'd like to send. So I'm challenging myself: everyday during the month of May, I'd like to send a different person a letter. If it becomes a hit, then maybe I'll start a penpal program: we can consistently send mail to one another and eventually trade our penpal with someone else!

If you're interested in joining, please comment below! Or you can email me at lauren.c.atkinson@gmail.com
Let me know if you'd. Just like a handwritten card or if you're interested in doing a penpal swap!

Transient

My Beauty Favorites of 2013

by lauren atkinson


2013 was the year of my all time favorites. 

Sure, every year I have items that I keep returning to throughout the entire year, but this past year was the year where I kept revisiting favorites from my past. I did a have a few items that were new and became beloved beauty-finds, but for the most part 2013 proved that some things you just can't get rid of once you fall in love.

Some of the new items on my list included some lipsticks. This fall I was really digging MAC's retro matte lipstick in "Ri Ri Woo". If you follow me on my instagram, then you know I love a bold lipstick. But what really sold me on Ri Ri Woo wasn't just the color: it was the texture. Because of the extreme retro matte finish, the pigmentation almost stands out even more and the color seems to hold longer. Plus it makes the color buildable: you can start with a soft dusting of the lipstick and blot away any excess for just a pop of red, or really pack a punch by adding a few layers. Plus: the packaging is absolutely beautiful.

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Another favorite that came to me towards the end of the year is MAC's "You've Got It" which is a soft, cool-toned, shimmery nude-pink. When I saw it, I KNEW I just HAD to have it. The only problem was that it was sold out both online and in stores. Luckily, I have a super savvy best friend that was able to hunt it down for me just in time for 2013 to come to an end. BUT IT COUNTS because I wore it every day until the end of the year: it looks beautiful layered on top of just about any shade. It gives a bit of shimmer and shine to your lips and softens any bold tones. In some lights (like below) it registers a bright gold, which I loved for the holiday season. 

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To revisit some of my all-time favorites, you already know my love for MAC's VIVA GLAM I. I wrote a whole post about why I love it here, so I don't think that needs to be spoken about again. 2013 brought the color back into my life, and I wore it at least once a week. 

Another lipstick favorite that is a part of my 2013 list is definitely one I add to my favorites list each year. It is YSL's Rouge Volupte in "1" or "nude".  YSL rouge volupte is easily my favorite lipstick (I now have every shade) outside of MAC's line, but this color is by far my favorite color. It's a wearable pinky nude that looks great year-round. Smooth, supple application and sheen finish. There's a reason why this is my third tube. 

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Other beauty favorites include the GK haircare line. OK, maybe it's a little daunting to say an entire product line is my favorite, but it really is. Every product I have touched from this line has been magic in my hair. It has been a lifesaver since I have color-treated hair that has become quite dry. I love the way the products smell, and none of them are too heavy in my hair. 

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These products truly feel weightless, in the best way. And now that I've converted all my haircare to the brand, no other brand will do!

Other favorites that I swear by this year are my Coastal Scents 88 Original Palette and my brush set which is also from Coastal Scents. When I needed to replace my brushes, I was a little strapped for cash and worried that these would not hold up. The price is deceiving: yes, it is affordable but that doesn't mean the product is cheap! After multiple washes, the brushes are still in beautiful condition. And as far as the palette is concerned, I've been absolutely pleasantly surprised by the beautiful colors and deep pigmentation of the shadows. What is also great is the texture of the shadow is soft and powdery but doesn't leave much fall-out when applied. Truly a great deal!

One surprise favorite was something I had picked up on a whim. After reading many reviews and seeing multiple blogposts for L'OREAL's Magic Nude Liquid Powder, I decided to give it a shot. Let me just say, this is the best drugstore product I have EVER purchased. What's great is that a little REALLY goes a long way with this product. Using it as a foundation AND powder, the formula is lightweight yet still full-coverage. When applying I only need less than a dime sized amount, which I pour on the back of my hand and dot with my fingers from the opposite hand. Instructions on the bottle say to blend with your fingers: I agree. This product blends best when using the clean pads of your fingertips and softly blotting and brushing into the skin. The product absorbs in a powdery finish that never feels wet or heavy. (If it does, then you've used WAY too much!) 

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Overall, I've had some pleasant surprises with beauty products this year that I've added with continued favorites. I look forward to using this products more this year and am excited what new things I come across next! 

 

What are some of your 2013 favorite beauty products? What things could you not leave behind in the store? Anything new I should try?